Avian Influenza kills most of Allen County backyard flock as virus spreads rapidly

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Published: May. 13, 2022 at 4:56 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - Avian influenza cases are rising nationwide and here in Indiana and we’re learning nearly an entire flock of poultry in Allen County has died after testing positive for the virus.

Denise Derrer Spears works with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. Her team has been busy in recent weeks with a massive surge of Avian Influenza cases.

“We’re just encouraging folks to be very vigilant in watching for any signs of illness in their birds,” Derrer Spears said. “Whether it’s a large operation or something small you have in your backyard and call and let us know is something is unusual. We’ll have one of our experts talk you through it and if it warrants, we’ll send someone out to do testing at no charge.”

Officials said Thursday, the owner of a backyard flock of birds in Allen County found nearly all of them dead. Preliminary tests show the poultry had bird flu.

This is the second backyard poultry flock in Indiana where the virus has been found. Last month, a flock of chickens and ducks tested positive in Johnson County and officials identified positive cases on six commercial farms in southern Indiana and three commercial farms in northern Indiana. Experts say the risk to humans is very low.

“As you can imagine, that can be really hard to control because the virus drop is spreading their bird droppings,” Derrer Spears said.

Cases are not just skyrocketing in the Hoosier state, officials say around 300 flocks across 34 states have also tested positive. As bird flu spreads across the country, Derrer Spears is hopeful to get it under control sooner rather than later.

“We really are hopeful that we can get this thing over with because we’re ready to move on ourselves,” Derrer Spears said. “However, we are cautiously optimistic about that.”

Officials with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health say store bought poultry is still safe to eat. You may remember in the fall, experts called on Hoosiers to not put out their bird feeders. As of now, they say it’s okay to keep them out as long as the feeders are cleaned regularly.

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